Third Act with Liz Tinkham

The Distressed Lecturer with Mike Harmon

Liz talks with former private equity partner Mike Harmon about his love of distressed assets, and how (after 20 years) his “turkey thermometer popped” and he decided to move on — not knowing what he would do next. A happiness lecture at Harvard prompted him to find his “ikigai”, or reason to wake in the morning. Today, he is a happy lecturer at the Stanford Business School.

Third Act Podcast

Your first act is school, your second act is work, but have you thought about what you’re going to do in your third act? Join host Liz Tinkham, a former Accenture Senior Managing Director, as she talks to guests who are happily “pretired” – enjoying their time, treasure, and talent to pursue their purpose and passion in the third act of their life.

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The Distressed Lecturer with Mike Harmon

On today’s show, Liz talks with Mike Harmon — the distressed lecturer. Mike graduated from college with dreams of going to Wall Street, but it was 1991 and a recession caused brought the party to an abrupt halt. He landed at a bank working on distressed loans, finding his calling in the distressed asset business.

But after 20+ years in the business, his “turkey thermometer popped” (as he puts it) – he was burned out, not seeing his family, and needed to move on. Sound familiar?

Luckily, a happiness lecture on the Okinawans at his Harvard Business School reunion prompted him to find his “ikagai” — or reason for waking up in the morning. He discovered a passion for public radio and teaching in that search. Today, he is a happy part-time lecturer at the Stanford Business School. Join Liz as she talks to Mike about how he made the journey to his third act.

2:14 The party is over on Wall Street
3:25 Loving distressed assets
4:20 Career at Oaktree Capital
5:20 The turkey thermometer pops
8:33 The impact of the Happiness Lecture
9:44 Mike’s criteria for choosing what to do next
10:20 Joining the board of a public radio station
12:46 Starting his graduate school teaching career at Harvard Business School
14:21 How to get a teaching job at Stanford
15:50 What’s next with in Mike’s third act

You can find more about Mike on his LinkedIn. The radio station he mentions in LA, KCRW, hosts a podcast called “Left, Right and Center” which can be found here.

If you enjoyed the podcast, please subscribe and share a review. Engage with more stories of those finding fulfillment in the third act of their lives on Liz Tinkham’s Third Act podcast at

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